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CD Review

The Romantic Cello Concerto

Volume 1

  • Ernő Dohnányi: Konzertstück in D Major, Op. 12
  • George Enescu: Symphonie Concertante in B Flat minor, Op. 8
  • Eugène d'Albert: Cello Concerto in C Major, Op. 20
Alban Gerhardt, cello
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Carlos Kalmar
Hyperion CDA67544 69m DDD
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Miracles really do happen! After the 'Lalande' saga where Hyperion has really come out the worst, one would have surmised a decrease in new issues. This does not seem to be the case as after the 'Romantic Piano' and Romantic Violin' concerto series, Britain's brightest record label have now launched 'The Romantic Cello Concerto' series with this first volume dedicated to works by Dohnányi, Enescu and d'Albert.

Ernő Dohnányi was born in 1877 in Bratislava and grew up with the cello sound in his ears. His father was an excellent amateur cellist himself, and his sibling seems to have inherited his ability, as Dohnányi's writing is grateful and assured. The Konzertstück, Op. 12 dates from 1903-04 and is a single half-hour piece, marvellously integrated in structure and pointing the way to a future mature symphonic form.

Born in Romania in 1881, George Enescu began composing at the age of five, and by the time of the Symphonie concertante, completed in November 1901, he had already written a considerable number of works, with four school symphonies featuring prominently. This piece is in two expansive sonata-movements linked by a short Tempo I. Full of virtuosic writing and innovations, it is a joyous composition, youthful, exciting and orchestrally luminous.

Eugène d'Albert was born in Glasgow in 1864 into a distinctive family. His ancestors included the composer, Domenico Alberti (the Alberti bass was named after him) and his paternal grandfather was an adjutant to Napoleon I. He studied composition under Sullivan and Liszt was among the admirers of his painistic skills. His Cello Concerto in C Major, Op. 20, written in 1899 has a surprise opening, with the oboe and then the clarinet appearing before the cello. The woodwinds also play a prominent part in the orchestration.

The profound charisma of the German cellist, Alban Gerhardt manages to highlight all the hidden beauties of these rare and engaging works. His playing is not only passionately alluring but also remarkably fastidious to the slightest detail in the scores. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Carlos Kalmar give sympathetic support and the soloist is always allowed to project his natural mastery of the instrument. If you want to help a worthy cause and at the same time, enjoy some captivating pieces then do not hesitate to buy.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech